I had the same problem. I now do all my own B and W negatives which is very easy and less expensive. I then scan the negatives and send digital files off for printing. I leave the special ones to the pro labs that still do them.
> Slightly off thread but what is your process for development, Jobo > or traditional wet darkroom? And what is your opinion of E6 > development at home? I too am thinking about this question. A & I > in Los Angeles is highly recommeded but the costs add up quickly > for the film and mailers (processing). thanks tom
> I have done film in the kitchen sink, a formal "darkroom", and > "currently" in the bathroom (my previous wonderful 10x13 darkroom > was pre-empted by a computer room when I started my own consulting > business out of the house...sniff sniff). E6 & color print can be done over the bathroom sink if you can load the reel in a changing bag. Photoflex has one they call a "portable darkroom" that is real nice and very roomy....you can change film is LF cameras in one...Monitor the temp with a good thermometer and regulate the temp by varying hot/cold flows...hey...it works...not convenient or even particularly desirable...but it works.
B&W is even easier for developing the film since temp constraints are far less.
If the wife will let you "replumb" you can place a temp control valve in the line and life becomes much easier (for some reason mine didn't want me to mess with her new Kholer sink and granite countertop so I am relegated to the "kids" bathroom at present). I have seen several temp control valves (the mechanical variety) come up for sale recently as the world goes "digital"...esp the larger volume valves ( 30-50-90 L/min) often used by x-ray development lab technicians in the "old days". Some are even new fresh out of the box, and have +/- 1/2 degree control.
Now all this pre-supposes a couple of things
1) You don't want to do wet prints (scan the negs on computer is my approach while my D2 is in storage). If you like "wet prints" you are going to either monopolize a bathroom or get a dark room (Kodak had some manuals years ago on building darkrooms in tight spaces like baths and closets..it is worth finding a copy if you want to follow this route).
2) take a garment bag, and a cheap hair dryer w/ flex hose, and build a "film dryer" ...use some fiber glass wool to act as a "air filter" on the end of the flex hose as it enters the garment bag. I use a bag that has a "roll around" stand so I can hang the film inside from clothes hangers. Unless you dry them in a clean areas like this, you will have horrible problems with dust on the negs (even with the film scanners which can remove these artifacts).
That's about it... oh one more thing...the Jobo color and E6 kits (5 liter) are excellent for this. You can mix up 1-liter at at time ( use a graduated cylinder to measure) , and keep the concentrated solutions sealed until needed.
Im with Robert on this. Doing black and white negs is a doddle. I have not sent any to a lab for some months now.
I actually bought a super enlarger that goes up to 5x4 from a pro lab which is currently going completely digital. They eventually ended up dumping 2 Devere 504 enlargers in a skip with 'no takers'. If you think medium format gear is cheep at the moment, darkroom gear is absolutely 'give away'. Hassy 6x6 negs are a delight to print.